Thursday, June 25, 2015

I am a Canning Nerd - Gardenless Canning

I adore canning.  It's like therapy for me.  I love to put on a mellow CD like Neil Young or The Jayhawks and slice, chop and peel the stress out of me.  Then comes the reward, jar after jar of beautiful jams, vegetables and sauces.  Unfortunately, therapy is never free.

The problem is twofold.  One, I do not have a garden, outside of a few containers of lettuce and potatoes.  Secondly, I recently became unemployed and I am now living on a self-imposed budget.  Normally, I buy wonderful, organic produce and berries through Azure Standard but those carefree days are over.  So what is a canning nerd to do?

This nerd goes foraging.  Right outside my backdoor I harvested dandelions and rhubarb and they produced the best jelly and jam I have ever made.  Have you ever had dandelion jelly?  Mmmm, it has a mellow taste that is perfect on toast or fresh baked bread with butter.  

I will be cutting rhubarb all summer long and soon the strawberries will be ready.  Currently, the only thing blooming on the property is yarrow and geraniums and both of them would make terrible jelly. Later this summer I will harvest fireweed and rosehips and make jelly to my heart's content. 

For the rest of my canning I have been buying organic vegetables from Costco.  So far, I have put up spicy carrots, potatoes, olive salad, beans, salsa, marinara and pizza sauce.  I can't afford fresh tomatoes so I have been buying #10 cans instead.  

Spicy Carrots

I'm often asked why I bother canning, isn't it cheaper to buy instead?  The answer is yes and no.  Therapy aside, I can for a few other reasons.  It's important to me to control the ingredients.  I strive to buy only organic and non-GMO ingredients.  I also like to control the portion size.  Let's just say that my hard working husband is a man of large appetites.  Lastly, I always have a ready made gift.  I hate to shop, so if I can go to my own pantry for gifts that is priceless.  For the most part, if you have your own garden, it would be cheaper to can your own produce.  Gardenless as I am, it often is not especially if you are picky about what you buy.

Lovin' life with my canner, a knife and a hungry husband at my side.

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